Migrants should be deported for serious offences even if granted asylum, says Lisa Chambers

Dublin MEP Barry Andrews expects legal challenges to migrant pact agreed this week by European Parliament

Migrants who commit a serious crime, even those who have been granted asylum, should be deported, Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers has said.

The Midlands-North-West candidate for the European Parliament went further than the recommendation in an internal Fianna Fáil report on immigration that recommends that asylum seekers who commit a ­serious crime while awaiting decisions on their international protection applications should be immediately deported.

Ms Chambers’s comments follow the European Parliament vote this week to approve the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. The pact provides for faster decision-making on asylum seekers’ applications and for member states to share responsibility for applications allowing for them to be relocated. Member states would make financial contributions where they do not wish to accept asylum seekers.

The controversial pact also provides for facial images and fingerprints being taken from children as young as six years old and the detention of asylum seekers in border centres near or in airports, while they are being screened.


The internal Fianna Fáil document, reported in the Irish Independent, calls for it to be made an offence to destroy a passport when entering the country to seek international protection and for significantly increased fines for airlines and ferries that do not ensure passengers have a valid passport on arrival in Ireland.

Speaking to reporters at the ardfheis Ms Chambers said: “My view is that there’s nothing stopping us from deporting somebody that commits a crime in the State.”

She added that even if they are granted refugee status they should be deported if it is an indictable offence. “That has to be looked at.”

“Anybody that comes into this country, or if they’re seeking asylum or have been granted refugee status, if you break the law, you need to be sent back. And that’s what the public are asking us for.”

Ms Chambers acknowledged she had not been working on the Migration Pact but said it would be two years before it is in operation. “I don’t see a challenge at an EU level. I don’t see it. I don’t see people being against that. I think other countries would be very much along the same lines as what I’m after saying.”

But the party’s Dublin MEP Barry Andrews believed “there may be legal challenges. We know that immigration laws are constantly litigated in the Irish High Court. And it won’t surprise me at all if some of these issues end up in the European Court of Justice.”

At a session on Europe and foreign affairs, Mr Andrews and South election candidate Cynthia Ní Mhurchú both criticised Opposition parties for making immigration into a “dog-whistle” issue.

Mr Andrews said that he had supported the asylum and migration pact.

“Sinn Féin has said it is against open borders. There is no such thing as open borders. It is using this dog-whistle phrase to try to generate support,” he said.

“They see their poll figures collapsing and they reach for the big panic button, migration, so they increase their chances of election.”

He said that immigration was a a sensitive and toxic subject.

“We need a common-sense and balanced migration policy, to help those who are genuinely seeking protection while at the same time restoring public confidence in migration management.”

Ms Ní Mhurchú said the issue of immigration had affected every county In Ireland and that Fianna Fáil had “fessed up” and admitted that the communications strategy was not good with local councillors and communities. However, she said that people needed to understand the perspective of those seeking asylum.

“We are talking about human beings and people fleeing from persecution and that is the case they are making and they are entitled to have the cases assessed

“We have a rules-based immigration system. It has got to be fair and proportionate.”

She said that Irish votes were not anti-immigrant but indicated there was misinformation out there about what asylum seekers get.

She said that they were not getting houses, or getting everything for free, and were only getting services such as medical cards while their applications were being assessed.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times